Switching To Office AutoPilot (OntraPort). What You Need To Know.

So, let's say your email list is currently hosted with the likes of Aweber or Mailchimp. And, you want to convert to Office AutoPilot. What do you need to know? Well, I did it. In my case, I moved out of Aweber and over to Ontraport. It was quite a bit of work, but most of that was just getting acquainted with how it works. So, let's talk about what this conversion process looks like. And, we'll do it FAQ style. :)

So, let’s say your email list is currently hosted with the likes of Aweber or Mailchimp. And, you want to convert to Office AutoPilot. What do you need to know?

Well, I did it. In my case, I moved out of Aweber and over to Ontraport. It was quite a bit of work, but most of that was just getting acquainted with how it works.

So, let’s talk about what this conversion process looks like. And, we’ll do  it FAQ style. 🙂

Do You Need To Convert Everything?

Everybody’s business is different. In my case, I converted Blog Marketing Academy to Office AutoPilot. However, my tech site continues to operate on Aweber.

For some online businesses, Office AutoPilot is simply not necessary. Where OAP comes in is when you want to do fine-tuned targeting, where you want to track everything in one central location. Since the Academy has more offers out there and more benefit to be had from automated marketing, that’s the business I moved over.

My tech site is a very simple business model. It is the blog, a newsletter, and a single product offer (which is the membership site). For simple delivery of a weekly newsletter, the likes of Office AutoPilot just aren’t necessary. And, if you only have one product offering, it might be overkill as well (I judged that it was). So, I didn’t move my tech site over.

How Do You Move The Emails Over?

You export out of your prior email provider and import into Office AutoPilot. OAP imports list from CSV files.

So, in my case, I would export each of my Aweber lists out of Aweber – one list per CSV file. Then, in OAP, go to Admin > Import Contacts.

ontraport-import-contacts

When you upload, it will ask you to verify that things look correct. Then, it will add the CSV to your list of uploaded files (see above). Once you click the “Import” button, you will map the fields. Basically, just pick which column in your CSV is mapped to what field inside of OAP…. then run it.

When you do your import, you can select the default “tag” or default “sequence” of the import, allowing you to track where people go. So, best bet is to create a tag which will tell you which list they were on inside of Aweber, then select that when you do the import. This way, you will still be able to segment your contacts correctly.

I should also mention… Office AutoPilot tracks a lot more things than just name and email. Aweber doesn’t. So, if you are importing actual customers where you have their address, phone numbers and all that… you might need to export them from another system (such as your shopping cart). Just keep in mind, OAP works with CSV files. So, you can move your contacts over from any system which can generate a CSV.

Do You Have to Re-Confirm Your Contacts?

No.

Some companies (Aweber, for example) require you to re-confirm all your contacts again if you import into their system. Unfortunately, that ALWAYS means you will lose some of your subscribers.

With Office AutoPilot, that isn’t a problem. When you import a CSV, OAP will have you check off a series of checkboxes, essentially attesting that all the leads are valid and you actually acquired them legitimately. Once you do that, it will simply import into the system without any problem.

Now, one thing to keep in mind (and this just recently occurred to me), but these imported contacts will go into your database with a Bulk Email status of “Yes”. However, that is different from a bulk email status of “Double-Confirm”. And, when it comes to actually SENDING your emails from Office AutoPilot, it will send the double-confirms from a different server than your other contacts. Essentially, your double-confirmed email addresses are going to get a better delivery rate. So, while you will not have to re-confirm your subscribers in order to be able to email them, you WILL need to have them double-confirm themselves once again if you’re going to get the top-shelf deliverability from Ontraport servers.

If you want to handle that at some point, you can draft an email in OAP with a link they can click to double-confirm. Then, just send that email out to all the people who are NOT double-confirmed and you can start moving people over.

Are There Any Quirks To Know About?

Always. 🙂 There is no piece of software on the planet that doesn’t have some limitations that you only discover once you get in there. And, Office AutoPilot / Ontraport isn’t any different.

  1. When you do an import, you apparently cannot import invoices, message history, or anything like that. You can only import the main contact information. I believe you can do custom fields, but not the other features of the customer profile.
  2. You can’t rename a tag. Really weird limitation. That will hopefully be fixed once they officially launch and re-brand as Ontraport.
  3. Sometimes you’ll find contact group filters that you just can’t do. For example, if you want a rolling group of all people who did some action within the last 30 days, you can’t do it. You would need to manually enter the cut-off date every time. Or being able to target people who did NOT click a link. The contact group filtering only includes an option for “Contains”, meaning you can only search for positives, not negatives.
  4. The message library, sequence list and tag list can, over time, get long and unweidly. However, they do have the ability to put them into groups. But, it is up to you to impose a naming convention on yourself. For example, any tag I use to indicate something they’ve bought, I use the “CUSTOMER” prefix. I use certain constant prefixes when naming things simply so that I can filter my own lists. Perhaps they’ll make the interface better on the next version.

Any Difficulties In Switching My Opt-In Forms Over?

The opt-in forms with Office AutoPilot do work differently than Aweber. Not only that, but there aren’t quite as many plug-ins out there which have built-in support for OAP opt-in forms. Aweber and Mailchimp are simply more popular, so that’s natural.

OAP “smart forms” (that’s what they call opt-in forms), like those of Aweber, can be pulled in in multiple ways: Javascript, IFRAME and raw HTML. The HTML versions come with a bunch of CSS and javascript file calls which bring in things like form error checking. If you want to simply take the OAP HTML and style it yourself, you can do that. But, you would need to keep their javascript file calls in order to have error checking. Without them, you can get invalid emails added to your database.

This was something I was surprised by when I discovered it. I was literally getting BLANK records added to my system, or bogus email addresses. And, I’d have to manually remove them. It appears as if OAP doesn’t have basic error checking internally, except for the javascript file. Aweber, on the other hand, wouldn’t allow an improperly formatted address into the system no matter what. They have system-level checks in place for that.

As long as you keep the javascript along with it, you can take and use OAP opt-in forms just like you would any other email system.

How’s The Ontraport Support?

Pretty good, although this was an area Aweber excelled at. I was always impressed with the speed at which I got support from Aweber, even just when using their online chat support (which I usually did).

Ontraport has online chat support, and they’re pretty good. They aren’t always as fast to respond as Aweber, though. Email and chat support have been fantastic. Every time I have called the company with a question, it was almost an instantaneous pick-up.

Overall, no complaints at all.

Is It Complicated Like Infusionsoft?

Well first, I don’t have very much direct experience with Infusionsoft, so I can’t speak directly to it. I just know that it has a long reputation for being confusing, and many have jokingly labeled it as “Confusionsoft”.

But, that reputation (and some other things) have driven many to choose Ontraport over Infusionsoft. Is it deserved? Is Ontraport / Office AutoPilot simple to use?

First of all, when you first get in there, you WILL find it a little confusing. That’s normal. You’re probably used to another system (Aweber, maybe?) and your first instinct is going to be to expect it to work like you’re used to. And, it doesn’t. You’re doing to have to learn where things are. But, you WILL get used to it. 🙂

Once you get through the initial growing pains, I don’t believe you will be confused by OAP. Overall, I find it to be pretty intuitive. Are there some things I think could be better designed? You bet! But, I still use it with no problem.

The other thing is… any full-fledged automated email marketing system and CRM like this one is going to be more to get used to than just a simple email list company like Aweber. Simply put, Office AutoPilot simply does more stuff. 🙂 And the nature of sequences and followups and all that means that, yes, there are a lot of moving parts. And, it can get confusing.

I even found myself diagramming out my different sequences and how they relate to each other just so I could wrap my head around it. But, that just speaks to the capabilities of the thing. You can really make it as simple or as complicated as you want, depending on the degree of automation you want. I’m sure there are a lot of other Office AutoPilot users who have their stuff much more “tricked out” than I do. 🙂

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Anyway, hope that helps for anybody thinking of making the switch-over. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below. 🙂

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Responses

  1. One thing that bit me when I moved to OAP a few months ago: they might want some additional info about your list if it’s really big. I imported ~18,000 contacts and they were like “whoa there cowboy where did these come from.” Just make sure your list is current and everybody’s doubly opted in.

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